Kelly Perfect Restoration

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walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
A lot of conversation is generally about the new stuff but I thought I would document my restoration of this True Temper Kelly Perfect felling axe. It's a barn find from my old family farm. Any input or experiences anyone would like to add are welcome.

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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
676
West Michigan
Lots of good info on handle replacement, google, you tube, etc..

For the metal, I have a recipe I've been using that's home made. Works well, is cheap and easy on the metal.

1/2 gallon of white vinegar
1/3 cup of salt
1 of those yellow squeeze lemon juice bottles, which I think are around 6- 8 oz "real lemon" lemon juice

you can reuse it and reuse it which is nice.

For real heavy rust, leave it on for 12 + hours, doesn't attack the metal, and you can use a scotch bright if you need a bit more removal. Give it a try. I've put in heavily rusted parts and tools for long periods with great results. I strain the mix and pour it back in a jug to reuse. Cheap and works.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
What are you looking to do? Do you want new metal? Do you want to keep any patina under the rust? Is this a wall hanger or going to be used?
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
676
West Michigan
One other thing, if you do the safe rust removal recipe I posted, wipe it/spray it off with a general cleaner or brake cleaner, etc., when you're done and oil/grease that thing up asap. I use fluid film on my antiques and older tools because we're high humidity around here. It will start to rust again almost immediately if you don't follow up with it a bit.

Also, if you try the recipe, take some pics. It's a gentle but effective recipe.
 
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walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
I just put it in the mixture of vinegar, salt and lemon juice. Going to give it a few good soaks and scrub it with some bar keepers friend as I saw on a youtube video. I haven't decided yet if I can going to polish it to a shine (I did this with an unidentified double bit axe I bought at a flea market) and I'm not sure if I like it. I may just see how this turns out without a full polish.
I think I want to make it a nice axe I use and hang on the wall. I like old tools and plan on a display wall in the garage but I also don't want to be afraid to pull one off the wall and use it.
 

Montanalocal

Feeling the Heat
Dec 22, 2014
442
Helena MT
Go to Buckin’ Billy Ray Smith on Youtube and view some of his axe hanging (installing a handle) vids. Here are a few.

One thing I am not sure is mentioned in these vids is which side of the axe head goes on the handle first. By carefully measuring, you can see that one side of the axe head hole is wider than the other. Some people might think that the wider side of the axe head goes on the handle first, but that is not so, you need to put the narrower side on the handle first and progressively carve the handle down so that the handle goes out the other side by at least a half inch.

The reason this is so is that the wider side needs to be to the outside end of the handle so that there is room for the wedge to expand the outer end of the handle so as to tighten the handle onto the axe.


This goes into the step-by-step process of fitting the handle to the individual axe head.

watch

This, while long, has a good section on fitting the wedge.



This has a good section on cutting and extending the kerf to fit the installation.

 
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walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
I will watch these. Anyone with recommendations on where to get a handle? I can look at TSC or local hardware store and check for good grain, but are their good online sources?
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
never buy a handle if you can't physically look at it for grain direction and heartwood/spring wood. Look through a pile of 30, and you'll find 2 good ones.
 
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walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
Done with the vinegar mixture and all rust cleaned off (thanks dodgynomad, I will be using that again). It has very little pitting and after rubbing some 3-in-1 oil on it, I think I will leave the finish as this. I have fully polished an axe in the past but I really like the way this one looks.
Next step is to clean up the edges on the poll and get the edge how I want it. I think it will be used for general chopping/ felling/ limbing and trail clearing.
 

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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
676
West Michigan
Done with the vinegar mixture and all rust cleaned off (thanks dodgynomad, I will be using that again). It has very little pitting and after rubbing some 3-in-1 oil on it, I think I will leave the finish as this. I have fully polished an axe in the past but I really like the way this one looks.
Next step is to clean up the edges on the poll and get the edge how I want it. I think it will be used for general chopping/ felling/ limbing and trail clearing.


That turned out great. Been a good combination for me, and I have done a few hatchet and axes with it over the years and have been happy with the outcomes.

I've done some deeply rusty tools and some finer antiques, and a lot of classic car parts and it never has let me down. I just strain it through a paint funnel and pour it back in the jug and use it over and over until it's muddy garbage. Cheap as I am....

I do a fair amount of media blasting also, but this concoction has its place for sure.
 

DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
676
West Michigan
I didn't mention that I have a Kelly Perfect that I use regularly. It's a great axe, but mine is a lot more beat up than yours, as it has been hit on the poll too many times with a big sledge when splitting over the years, so the edges are peened over. Good axe.
 

walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
Its actually got me interested in the history of the company. I have read The American Axe and have picked up some history but I think Im going to be doing a little more digging.
 

Osage

Feeling the Heat
Nov 3, 2011
277
kansas
Turned out very nice. I have an old Keen Kutter I restored using the same method.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,230
Whitmore lake, MI
I will watch these. Anyone with recommendations on where to get a handle? I can look at TSC or local hardware store and check for good grain, but are their good online sources?
This has been a huge debate for a awhile. If you are a beginner at hanging axes I would suggest going to the local hardware and buying the straightest handle you can find. This way if you screw it up you are only out $14.00. There are places online with perfect grain orientation and no grain run out and all the things all the the YouTube bushcrafters tell you are important. I say F all that non sense. Plus all the boutique handles are usually sold out or crazy expensive. If you feel you need or still want a boutique handle look up kilinger on you tube or Google kilinger axe handles. Plus, Bucking Billy Ray is cool and all, however, there is a new kid on YouTube doing a real good job with axe videos. Kevin kevech. Check him out too.
 

Osage

Feeling the Heat
Nov 3, 2011
277
kansas
I make my handles mostly out of oak 4x4s I salvage from pallets. I have made some out of hedge. The hedge are about unbreakable but it a longer process to fashion them.
 

walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
398
ohio
I bought what I think is a pretty good handle from TSC. I checked the other local hardware stores and this one seemed to be the best of the bunch. The grain is pretty straight and oriented well with only a little grain run out. Best of all it was straight. I looked at maybe 25 handles between the 3 stores and went with this one.
I've been busy with other projects lately but will get back to this soon. I am going to order come of the conical keys just to try them rather than the standard V keys that came with the handle.
 

RandyBoBandy

Minister of Fire
Feb 25, 2015
1,230
Whitmore lake, MI
I bought what I think is a pretty good handle from TSC. I checked the other local hardware stores and this one seemed to be the best of the bunch. The grain is pretty straight and oriented well with only a little grain run out. Best of all it was straight. I looked at maybe 25 handles between the 3 stores and went with this one.
I've been busy with other projects lately but will get back to this soon. I am going to order come of the conical keys just to try them rather than the standard V keys that came with the handle.
A 4in hand tool or wood rasp works great for shaping the handle so it slides in the eye nicely. A palm sander with 80 grit works to, however, it just creates a lot of dust though. Don’t be scared to thin the handle down. Hardware store handles come super thick. Don’t be shy to shorten it some too. I’m guessing it’s a 36” handle? I’m also working on hanging an axe with a hardware store handle. I’m experimenting with thinning it way down and shortening to about 30”. I may loose the whole fawns foot but that’s ok. You won’t know what you like until you try different things.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,145
Downeast Maine
Something to keep in mind: compare the head of your Kelly to another that has little to no use. Make sure you have enough bit left to make the whole endeavor worth while.